On August 22, 2017 Patriarch Kirill of Moscow Received the Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin at the patriarchal and synodal residence of Saint Daniel’s monastery in Russia. At the heart of the exchanges was, notably, “aid to Christians of the Middle East, the Ukrainian conflict, and the development of relations between the two Churches.
Greeting “a highly symbolic ecumenical meeting, which attests to the thaw in relations between the Vatican and the Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow, Vatican Radio reported in French Cardinal Parolin’s words, who transmitted Pope Francis’ greetings to his “brother Krill.”
According to the same source, the interview was the occasion to recall the convergence between the Holy See and the Russian Orthodox Church on several questions, notably “humanitarian assistance to populations victims of conflicts in the Near East.”
Also on the list of exchanges was the conflict in Ukraine, on which “contrasts exist always concerning the very delicate question of relations with the four million Greek-Catholics.” However, “Vatican Radio believes that it’s not today a dossier that creates an obstacle to dialogue.”
In this connection, following a press release of the Patriarchate, Patriarch Kirill stressed in this regard that “the Church can play no other role than a peaceful role while people are in conflict with one another.
For Cardinal Parolin, the historic meeting between the Russian Patriarch and Pope Francis at Havana, Cuba in February 2016 “set the basis for a new stage in relations between our Churches, giving a new impulse to those relations.”
Among the consequences of this meeting, he welcomed the stay of Saint Nicholas’ relics in Russia, whichj attracted 2.3 million pilgrims form May 21 to July 28. This aspect accelerated our advance in our relations, stressed the Vatican’s “Number 2.” I was very happy to see the importance of that event, of its reception in the Russian Orthodox Church … It can be said that one of the results of the relics’ stay is a new atmosphere which helps us to exchange and to advance.”
“When we said goodbye to the relics at St. Petersburg, confided for his part Patriarch Kirill, I told the people neither ecclesiastical diplomacy, nor Governmental diplomacy were able to do as much for the development of relations between the Catholic world and the Orthodox world as what Saint Nicholas did.”
He believes that this first official visit of a Vatican Secretary of State to Russia, attests to the “development if relations between the Russian Federation and the Holy See” and “relations between our Churches”: “a new stage has effectively begun in our relations.”
During the meeting of the cardinal Parolin with the patriarch Kirill, “there was an exchange of gifts”, said bishop Hilarion de Volokolamsk, president of the Department of the foreign ecclesiastical relations said (DREE), RIA Novosti Russian agency reports.
“The pope offered to the patriarch a gift representing a vine and the patriarch gave to the cardinal the icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary as well as his book in italian “Freedom and Responsibility: A Search for Harmony”, said the Hilarion. The book is already published in many languages and speaks about Christian attitude towards the modern liberal values. ”
The meeting took place within Saint Daniel monastery, the patriarchal and synodal residence.
Monsignor Celestino Migliore, the Apostolic Nuncio in Russia; Monsignor Visvaldas Kulbokas, member of the Holy See State Secretariat, and Monsignor Erwin Lengyel , First Secretary of the Apostolic Nunciature, represented the Catholic Church.
Taking part for the Moscow Patriarchate at the meeting were Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, President of the Department of External Ecclesiastical Relations (DREE), Archimandrite Philarete (Boulekov), Vice-President of the DREE, hiero-monk Stephane (Igoumnov), Secretary of the DREE for Inter-Christian Relations, and Father Alexii Dikarev, collaborator of the DREE.
Translation by Virginia Forrester and A. Bourdin